I understand that after reading my story, you may think I have not won. That I am celebrating victory when the battle is still being fought. But, friends and fellow mamas, if and when you find yourself in this situation, you may think differently and may even feel in solidarity with me.
Our confrontation really started a few months ago. My very active and intelligent toddler realized she could climb out of her crib. She did it twice, and the way I found out is by her proudly skipping into the living room after being put to bed. This was a frightening development, scenarios of her plunging to her death playing in my head. The second time it happened, I demanded to my husband we needed to take off her railing of her crib/convertible toddler bed pronto.
That’s when I started praying. Please God, please don’t let her realize that she can easily exit her bed and room now.
That lasted a day. Night two she gleefully discovered she had full autonomy on when she could leave her bed. I instantly missed the oppressive baby jail.
Then came the dramatic nights. It resulted in many rounds of intense crying fits, her getting up in the middle of the night sneaking into my bed, my husband and I bringing her back, then her doing it again an hour or so later, repeat, until I would give up and just let her sleep the rest of the night in our bed.
Things came to a head when one night she repeated this 3-4 times in a row. I was losing my mind. I also couldn’t sleep with this toddler body kicking me, moving around, her feet somehow in my face. Despite our king bed, she favored my side instead of my husband’s, leaving me on the edge of the bed, almost plummeting to the floor.
Something had to change. This wasn’t sustainable.
We tried the baby gate. All that meant was her screaming at the top of her lungs, which required us to still get up in the middle of the night to attend to her.
I scoured the internet for advice. Most of them said you should really wait until they were three-years-old. Well that sounded great except she was literally crawling out of her crib, so that seemed like a bust.
Then I came upon brilliant advice in a local Lafayette mom group. The advice was simple. Make a pallet on the side of your bed. If she wants to go to your room, she has to sleep there, and she can’t wake up mom or dad or crawl into bed with them.
I didn’t waste another moment. I immediately found a body pillow, wrapped a blanket around it. I added a pillow and fluffy blanket, and done. Pallet achieved.
The first night, Charlotte looked at me in utter confusion. But it was 1 AM, and I was so tired of the wake-up calls. So I introduced it to her, and explained this is where she would sleeping if she wanted to stay in our room. Her desire to be in our room quickly overcame any fight in her to demand to sleep in our bed.
Our Current Situation
It still needs some work. Our routine begins with books, rocking, and bed. As we exit, we put up a baby gate and then do at least 1-3 times of her getting out of bed and screaming bloody murder. Before we retire ourselves, we remove the baby gate, and typically she is in our room by midnight or 1 AM, using the pallet without fuss for the rest of the night. It’s not perfect. We’ll probably have to re-assess in the future so that she can stay in her room the whole night. But for now it works, and mom and dad get to sleep the full night more or less. It’s working for our family.